InsightaaS: Avinash Kaushik is the author of two best-selling books (Web Analytics 2.0 and Web Analytics: An Hour A Day), an advisor to/lecturer at many different educational institutions — including University of Toronto and UBC — and digital marketing evangelist for Google. He is also the author of the Occam’s Razor blog, which provides “excellent analytics tips” to an avid community of readers.
In this post, Kaushik digs into the different uses of digital data within an organization. He uses an interesting graphic (reproduced below) to illustrate the relative depths at which data analysts, director-level staff, VPs and CXOs access, analyze and understand the context of information needed to make informed business decisions. He then distinguishes between “customized data pukes” (CDPs) – reports that essentially package numbers – and dashboards, which contain text from the analyst addressing three key issues: insights gleaned from business data, recommendations for action, and the business impact of the recommended actions. Kaushik ends up endorsing an approach in which director-leel staff are provided with CDPs, while the analysts deliver tactical dashboards to VPs and strategic dashboards to CXOs. This may seem highly aspirational to current analysts who are struggling to keep up with daily requests, or to executives who are trying to connect the output from the BI capabilities that they have invested in with real business benefit. However, as a model, Kaushik’s work provides the basis for structure that will help both groups – and the directors and VPs who populate the org chart between them – to extract the kinds of business value that analytics proponents evangelize.
I’m excited about the power of a well created dashboard. It is a thing of beauty and a source of immense joy.
Oh, and of course a critical element for any company’s path to glory.
Dashboards are every where, we will look at a lot of them in this post and they are all digital…
[Kaushik then analyzes two examples of dashboards – the first with high-level business information, the second with nearly-incomprehensible business data. Picking up the discussion after the second example…] I’m sure you’ll very quickly come to the conclusion that this is just a data puke. Yes, it does summarize data from many reports into one. But think of what’s on it for a moment. Can you understand anything except the cursory superficial information? And now, pull back. Go three levels, or five, inside the organization to the Senior Leadership, would they get anything out of this? I do mean, *anything*?
This is our challenge. Somewhere along the way we’ve lost our way. Dashboards are no longer thoughtfully processed analysis of data relevant to business goals with an included summary of recommended actions. They are data pukes. And data pukes are not dashboards. They are data pukes…
I humbly believe the challenge is that in a world of too much data, with lots more on the way, there is a deep desire amongst executives to get “summarize data,” to get “just a snapshot,” or to get the “top-line view.” This is understandable of course.
But this summarization, snapshoting and toplining on your part does not actually change the business…
…and here’s the image described above: